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Lou Dobbs Tonight
Political Disputes over bin Laden Tape; Karl Rove Returns to Defend Wiretaps; U.S. Blasts Iran About Nuclear Program; RNC Members Didn't Challenge Guest Worker Amnesty Initiative; Canadian Hostility for U.S. Peaks; Washington Post Shuts Down Blog; Anti-American Leader Taking Power in Bolivia
Aired January 20, 2006 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody.
Tonight, the escalating battle on Capitol Hill over the federal government's secret wiretap program. Republican lawmakers today declared that Osama bin Laden's new audiotape demonstrates the critical importance of the government's surveillance program, but Democrats are stepping up their criticism, clearly seeking political advantage.
Ed Henry reports from Washington -- Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, that's right, Republicans believe bin Laden's latest broadside should be a wakeup call that al Qaeda is still dangerous and the NSA program will help keep America safe. But Democrats are not about to back down.
HENRY (voice over): At a mock hearing on Capitol Hill, Democrats stepped up their attacks on the president's domestic spying program.
REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D), FLORIDA; The administration has groundlessly circumvented judicial review and taken America down a frightening path which preys on a culture of fear while casually disregarding existing civil liberties.
HENRY: But the new Osama bin Laden audiotape has given Republicans a political opening to make the case for the surveillance program and other anti-terror tools.
Republican Senator John Kyl said, "We cannot bind our hand in this fight. If we do, and terrorists launch more attacks against us, opponents of security tools such as the Patriot Act and NSA surveillance will have to answer for their opposition."
A point Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman tried to hammer home Friday.
KEN MEHLMAN, RNC CHAIRMAN: ... that Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean really think that when the NSA is listening in on terrorists planning attacks on America they need to hang up when those terrorists dial their sleeper cells inside the United States. HENRY: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who will give a Tuesday speech on domestic spying, this week issued a new 42-page legal justification of the program to congressional leaders.
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Making their argument longer did not make it any better.
VAN HOLLEN: And I have to say that any first-year law student would, after reading this, quickly conclude that the arguments were specious.
HENRY: As part of -- as part of a stepped-up PR campaign on the spying program, the White House today briefed Hill leaders, including Democrat Nancy Pelosi. But Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid have fired off a tough letter to the vice president saying they want more regular briefings, not spotty ones. And they're vowing to keep the heat on when those hearings on Capitol Hill start over the program next month -- Lou.
DOBBS: Ed, thank you.
Ed Henry from Washington.
The Bush administration today launched a new campaign defending the president's decision to authorize those secret wiretaps. The White House counterattack today led by someone we haven't heard from for quite some time, presidential adviser Karl Rove.
Dana Bash reports from the White House.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): What better way to show you're in the game than to take part in the public pushback on a major issue: your boss' secret spy program, but with a classic Rove political twist.
KARL ROVE, DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: Republicans have a post-9/11 view of the world, and Democrats have a pre-9/11 view of the world. That doesn't make them unpatriotic, not at all. But it does make them wrong.
BASH: He's still in legal limbo over a CIA leak, but this rally- the-troops speech to the RNC was about showing he's still the architect, the man with the plan for the critical midterm elections, which sounded a lot like back to basics.
ROVE: They believe taxes should be raised in times of prosperity and times of economic slowdown, during war and during peacetime, in even years and odd ones.
TOM RATH, RNC: It's a shot of enthusiasm for a party at this point in time when some of our poll ratings haven't been so good to see our best manager, our best Republican strategist.
BASH: But with the red meat came a warning as Republicans fight the fallout over a lobbying scandal: don't risk political success by falling victim to mistakes that cost Democrats their power.
ROVE: When political power becomes an end of itself rather than a means to achieve the common good, we need to learn from our successes and from the failures of others.
BASH: Friends admit there is lingering concern beneath Rove's stay-focused style.
MATT SCHLAPP, FMR. WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR: You're always concerned about the actions you might take or the decisions you might advise and what the consequences are.
BASH: But Matt Schlapp, who worked for Rove, scoffs at any talk he's on the outs.
SCHLAPP: Those who have worked for this president and know this president know that if there was somebody he wanted to put in the doghouse, he'd put them in a doghouse.
BASH: And whether Rove is in the president's doghouse or not, it's still unclear where he stands with the special prosecutor who's leading the CIA leaks investigation. Rove's attorney tells us, as far as they know, he's still not a target but he's not out of the woods yet either -- Lou.
DOBBS: Dana, thank you.
Dana Bash from the White House.
Coming up in this broadcast, two of my guests have passionate opposing views on secret wiretaps. Author and journalist James Bamford and attorney David Rifkin join me.
A federal judge today sentenced a former Pentagon analyst who betrayed the United States and gave secret information to Israel more than 12 years in prison. Lawrence Franklin was an expert on Iraq and Iran, he worked closely with top Pentagon officials, and delivered secret information to pro-Israel lobbyists and an Israeli diplomat.
The United States today blasted Iran for its refusal to abandon its nuclear program. U.S. diplomats are trying to win international support for the issue to be referred to the United Nations Security Council, as is the European Union and Russia. All of this as Iran moved its money around the world to avoid being frozen by U.N. sanctions.
Kitty Pilgrim reports.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The U.S. State Department starting the day's briefing with a reference to the Iranian hostage crisis 25 years ago today.
SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: Our citizens suffered psychological torment and physical brutality. I extend our sincere gratitude and admiration to these genuine American heroes and their families.
PILGRIM: Condoleezza Rice and other top U.S. diplomats are traveling throughout Asia and Europe to round up as many votes as possible against Iran before the IAEA meeting in early February.
GARY MULHOLLIN, WISCONSIN PROJECT: What we're looking at here is a legitimacy test for the IAEA. Its job is to report to the U.N. Security Council when a country violates its obligation to allow its nuclear facilities to be inspected. Iran is in clear violation, and it's the IAEA's job to refer the case to the U.N. And the question is, is the IAEA going have the courage to do that?
PILGRIM: The State Department today says it wants Iran referred to the U.N. Security Council as the next step.
MCCORMACK: We believe we have the votes for a referral at the February 2 meeting. We believe that that's what we're going to see, and we believe the next stop after (INAUDIBLE) is going to be New York.
PILGRIM: Iran seems to believe it will be increasingly isolated. Today, Iran started moving its foreign exchange reserves out of Europe in case they are frozen. Iran's assets in the United States have been frozen since the hostage crisis in 1979.
This week, the Iranian president traveled to Damascus looking for friends in the neighborhood. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syria's Bashar al-Assad offered mutual support to each other in their conflicts with the West. Syria is under international pressure for involvement in the assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.
PILGRIM: Now, the U.S. State Department said the international community is United on the issue on Iran. And when asked if Russia and the others would support referring Iran to the Security Council, the spokesman replied, "We believe we have enough votes."
But when it comes to the time that they have to raise their hand, it will be up to the individual countries -- Lou.
DOBBS: Yes, that makes certain sense. Russia has surprised many by supporting to this point the European Union and the United States in its position on Iran. That is, notably to move it through United Nations channels, specifically the Security Council.
Where in the world is Iran sending its money? China? PILGRIM: The people we spoke to today thought that it was moving -- being moved to Asia. But they do not know exactly which Asian country. It's about $50 billion. So...
DOBBS: Given the relationship, one would expect Asia.
PILGRIM: I would guess.
DOBBS: Thank you.
The worsening Iranian nuclear crisis helped send the price of crude oil soaring today. Oil up nearly $2, now at $68 a barrel.
That helped trigger a sell-off on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrials dropping more than 200 points. The Nasdaq fell more than 50. This the worst one-day decline in the market in almost three years.
Coming up here, the Mexican military not only thinks it can get away with its illegal incursions into the United States, it's actually doing so.
And what is the Bush administration doing? Nothing. Nonetheless, we'll have videotape of what the Mexican military is doing.
And forget lobbying reform. See whether you can find any of our elected representatives who are interested in the welfare of American working men and women. Our special report, "War on the Middle Class," coming up.
And three of the country's best political journalists on the Catholic Church's move to defeat tough border security legislation and the role of Catholics, Jews and evangelicals in national politics.
DOBBS: Tonight, compelling new evidence that the Mexican military is repeatedly crossing the border into the United States. The Minutemen say a new video could lay to rest any doubt that anyone has that the Mexican military is violating border agreement and completely ignoring U.S. sovereignty.
Casey Wian reports.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Are these Mexican soldiers fleeing back across the U.S. border in Arizona? Minuteman project co-founder Chris Simcox, who shot this video in January 2004, says he thinks they are.
CHRIS SIMCOX, MINUTEMAN PROJECT CO-FOUNDER: We caught them about 500 -- 500 yards inside our border. Then they then ran through the bushes and ran back into Mexico, back up to their -- to the humvee. We're not sure, but they looked like Mexican military that we have encountered many times along the border.
WIAN: The Mexican government claims its troops are ordered to stay a mile away from the border and denies reports by the Homeland Security Department that Mexican soldiers crossed into the United States without permission nearly twice a month over the past decade.
Simcox says the heavily-armed men wearing military uniforms and driving numbered military-style vehicles then crossed back into the United States and confronted him through a cattle fence.
SIMCOX: They wanted the videotape. We declined. They said we were bothering them, that they were just out there doing their job. And that was it.
WIAN: Simcox says he did not ask the men who they were or what they were doing.
SIMCOX: At that point, when I'm standing there facing a squad of supposedly Mexican military, which also could have been a rogue group, carrying automatic weapons, it was something I didn't feel comfortable challenging at that point.
WIAN: We played the video for a well-known international security expert who was outraged.
JOHN PIKE, GLOBALSECURITY.ORG: It really looks like either a corrupt Mexican soldiers or people who are able to run around dressed like Mexican soldiers with nobody stopping them. They're invading the United States, and it looks like they're providing guard duty for people smuggling in undocumented workers or smuggling in drugs.
I think the United States needs to stop it. I mean, we're being invaded.
WIAN: Pike says the U.S. military may be needed on the border to stop incursions by Mexican soldiers.
WIAN: Meanwhile, Congressman Duncan Hunter and David Dreier of California are requesting a congressional investigation into Mexican military incursions. They say, "These incidents represent a threat to our national security and raise serious concerns about our border protection practices and our ability to provide for the safety of our Border Patrol agents" -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, perhaps Duncan Hunter and others who's been advancing ideas on border security might consider this: how about a congressional investigation of this administration that refuses to enforce either immigration laws or border security, period?
WIAN: It's a heck of an idea. They haven't called for it yet. Not sure we're going see that -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you very much.
Casey Wian reporting from Los Angeles.
Also tonight, Republican Party leaders are showing their true colors on the issue of border security. Republican National Committee members had a key opportunity today to challenge the Bush administration on its illegal alien guest worker amnesty initiative. But the RNC didn't even put up a fight.
Lisa Sylvester reports.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Republicans from around the country gathered for their winter meeting. Among the resolutions, one that embraced the president's proposed guest worker program. One hundred sixty-four Republican National Committee members voted in favor...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Signify with "Aye."
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Aye.
SYLVESTER: ... with only one person opposed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Opposed?
RANDY PULLEN, WITHDREW RESOLUTION: Aye.
SYLVESTER: The lone voice against was Randy Pullen of Arizona. Afterward, he withdrew his competing resolution that did not include guest worker language. Pullen says he offered his resolution because he believes none of the proposals for a temporary guest worker program would even work.
PULLEN: The McCain-Kennedy bill, which essentially allows them to stay for six years in the country, what do you do after six years after someone's married and has children and has a car payment and a house payment like you and I do? And then you're going to tell them after six years, sorry, you've got to go home now?
SYLVESTER: The Republican leadership succeeded beating back Pullen's attempt to split from the White House. Even though the public vote was not close, behind closed doors there is a deeper conflict between pro-business Republicans and anti-illegal immigration Republicans.
DAN STEIN, FAIR: It's tearing the Republican Party apart, because if the president and Karl Rove insist on jamming a big guest worker program through Congress, I predict it's going to cost Republicans the majority.
SYLVESTER: At the RNC committee level, there was a more vigorous debate. Pullen says that was the big fight that he lost.
PULLEN: You know, it's the old saying, sometimes you're the bug and sometimes you're the windshield. Well, this time, I was the bug.
SYLVESTER: RNC chair Ken Mehlman says the debate process was a fair one, but Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo, who has been very outspoken against the guest worker program, responded, saying, "The RNC's failure to pass a get-tough border security resolution shows the extent to which the White House will use strong-arm tactics to secure an amnesty." And Representatives Tancredo expects that there will be one heck of a fight when immigration reform is debated in the Senate -- Lou.
DOBBS: It also shows that the absolute obedience of the Republican National Committee to corporate interests and those for open borders and not border security, and for the continued ignorance and indifference to immigration laws will continue. And the peril that puts the House of Representatives in, it will be -- it's generally speculated significant come November.
SYLVESTER: That is indeed correct, Lou. And a lot is going to depend on how this all plays out in the Senate, and when it goes into conference committee. But you can bet voters will be watching this debate very closely as well -- Lou.
DOBBS: I appreciate it. Lisa, thank you very much.
Lisa Sylvester from Washington.
Time now for tonight's poll.
What do you believe will be the source of the greatest challenge to the United States over the next decade: China, North Korea, Iran or American leadership?
Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have results later here on the broadcast.
Still ahead, the latest on Capitol Hill corruption and what's happened to the money members of Congress received from that Jack Abramoff fellow.
Also tonight, national security versus your right to privacy. The legal and political fight over the federal government's secret wiretaps. We'll have two strongly-opposing views.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: House and Senate leaders, both Republican and Democrat, announced separate plans this week to clean up Capitol Hill. But as they tout their proposals for lobbying reform, these very same politicians have a lot to answer about their own involvement in the Abramoff lobbying mess.
Since 2000, Abramoff and his tribal clients donated more than $3.5 million to both the Democratic and Republican parties and individuals politicians. Republican candidates received about $2.5 million in donations. Democrats, just slightly less than half that, $1.1 million.
How much of this money, however, has been given back? We've heard a lot about tainted money and politicians concerned about that tainted money. Well, it turns out they've given back less than $1 million.
Virtually all of the money handed back has been given to charity. Congressmen have been giving their Abramoff-tainted contributions to charities such as the Salvation Army, the Boy Scouts of America and the American Indian College Fund.
Each week on this broadcast we salute the individuals and the organizations making positive contributions to the country. Among those earning our admiration and respect this week, the Montana Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council.
Montana's senator, Conrad Burns, tried to give this Native- American group more than $100,000 in Abramoff-tainted charity donations. The tribal council rejected the offer and handed the money right back. And it seems to be the only ones to do so.
The tribal council says it won't have anything to do with helping bailing out a U.S. senator out of the Abramoff mess and recommends something that we hardly endorse here: how about giving it back to the tribes whose money it was in the first place?
And Bay Buchanan, the chair of Team American, the political action committee, her committee traveling the country, rallying American voters against the Bush administration's guest worker program, generally considered to be an amnesty program, as she calls it, for illegal aliens. And she's not the only one.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz also on our honor roll this week. Stiglitz, along with Harvard economist Linda Bilmes, sounding he alarm on the spiraling cost of the Iraq war. They say the cause could reach $2 trillion, a far cry from the $50 billion to $60 billion war the administration once projected.
For more on the honor roll, log on to our Web site, loudobbs.com.
Time now to look at your thoughts.
Sally in Nevada wrote in to say, "What a relief to hear the Catholic Church is so gung ho on open borders. Perhaps Vatican City can take a few million of our overflow.
And Bernice in Indiana: "How embarrassing to Catholics to hear that the Church's leadership cares more about the financial impact of illegal immigrants upon this country than the safety of our own citizens."
And Janice in Pennsylvania, "I'm a Catholic and appalled they feel illegal immigrants should have the same rights as anyone else. If the trend continues, it doesn't take long to convert to another religion." And Harry in Alaska, "I finally figured out why the Republicans and Democrats are called "parties." It's because that's what they do with the lobbyists' money.
Send us your thoughts at loudobbs.com. We'll have more of your thoughts later here in the broadcast.
Coming up, our nation's lawmakers say they can repeatedly get away with voting against the interests of the middle class. So far, they're doing so. A special report on what they've done coming up.
And Latin America's left-wing elite gathering in Bolivia to salute socialist president Evo Morales, the man who calls himself "America's nightmare." This country, however, is predicting a few of its own nightmares. We'll have the story from Bolivia.
And the Catholic Church, it says it can tell the United States how to defend or not defend our borders. Reaction from three top journalists on that story and the week's developments in Washington next.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Coming up, the White House on the offensive in the secret wiretap controversy and debate. I'll be talking with two distinguished guests on opposing sides of this issue.
But first, let's take a look at the top news stories of this hour.
The search continues tonight for two West Virginia coal miners trapped beneath the mine under a fire. This new accident comes less than a month after the Sago Mine explosion which claimed the lives of 12 other West Virginia coal miners.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is apologizing to the Republican Party tonight, saying he went too far in criticizing 33 GOP senators in the Abramoff ethics scandal. Senator Reid says he was wrong to single out those senators in his report entitled "Republican Abuse of Power."
And the worsening Iranian nuclear standoff triggered a new spike in oil prices this session. Oil rose more than $1.50, more than $68 a barrel now, helping to trigger, in part, the worst decline in the stock market in almost three years.
Rising energy prices just part of the escalating war on this country's middle class. Congress and our leaders in Washington could not care less, apparently, about the men and women who make this country work. Their lack of concern is evident in their actions and lack of action.
Bill Tucker has the story.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The middle class wants to find the American dream. It's a dream that's becoming increasingly difficult to afford. Dramatic increases in productivity which once meant rising wages no longer has meaning as Americans have become disconnected from the economic wealth they generate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you look over the past five years, for example, productivity is up really quite impressively, about 17, 18 percent. Middle income family, down each one of those years. The gap between the economy's productive capacity and the real incomes of middle income families is wider than it's ever been.
TUCKER: In 2005, real wages fell again. To make up for falling wages, debt soared. Homeowners pulled out one-half a trillion dollars in equity out of their homes and racked up a record $800 billion in credit card debt.
Ignoring their plight, Congress rewrote the bankruptcy code so that erasing debt and a clean start are no longer a possibility. Rubbing salt into the wound, Congress pushed ahead with free trade treaties in 2005. The Central America Free Trade Agreement being the latest example which forces American workers to compete with workers earning 50 cents an hour with no benefits.
ANDREA BATISTA SCHLESINGER, DRUM MAJOR INSTITUTE: There is no organized special interest that represents the middle class. We're workers, primarily, first and foremost. We're people who want to send our kids to college, take care of your parents, retire in dignity. That doesn't fall into a specific special interest group with a lobbyist presence in Washington.
TUCKER: For example, imposing policy that raises the minimum payments on credit cards instead of imposing limits on the interest that credit card companies can charge.
TAMARA DRAUT, AUTHOR, "STRAPPED": The story, in terms of what Congress is doing for the middle class, is really about what they're not doing.
TUCKER: Talking the middle class talk is good for getting reelected, Lou. But when it comes to walking the walk, there are very few in Washington that do.
DOBBS: Well, the Republicans clearly representing and advancing the interests of corporate America on every domestic issue without exception. The Democrats, with great shame because of the tradition of party doing absolutely nothing to forestall this assault, direct assault, war on our middle class. Correct?
Bill Tucker, thank you.
The White House has launched a major offensive to build public support for its domestic wiretap program before congressional hearings begin next month. The offensive continues next week when the president will visit the National Security Agency where the secret wiretaps are carried out.
Joining me tonight two distinguished figures on opposing sides of this debate. Author and journalist James Bamford, who is against the surveillance program, attended a strategy session on the matter in Washington today. Attorney David Rivkin, former policy adviser in the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations, he is obviously in favor of this program.
Gentlemen, good to have you with us.
DOBBS: Jim, a mock hearing, as Ed Henry styled it, today on Capitol Hill. What was the point and were any points made?
JAMES BAMFORD, JOURNALIST, AUTHOR: Well, I think there's a very good point. And the point is that the folk committee, the Republicans, refused to actually take a look into why the president decided to evade the law, violate the law, go around the law, however you want it define it.
So the only people left are the Democrats. And because they don't have the majority, they can't hold a formal hearing. So they had to have it down in the basement. But I think there was a lot accomplished because we had speakers from the left, speakers from the right.
And we all agreed that this was a blatant violation of the law, agreeing with what the Congressional Research Service said in two separate reports, and looking for solutions.
DOBBS: David, why do you believe this is lawful? It seems to be in contravention to the 1978 law. It seems to be a subversion, really, of the FISA process. Tell us why you feel the way you do.
DAVID RIVKIN, ATTORNEY: It's not an open and close case, Lou. FISA is not, repeat, not a comprehensive regulation of all intelligence gathering activities, electronic surveillance in the United States.
FISA deals with a narrow set of circumstances, really for specific surveillance in areas described in subsection F. And of these, only one potentially applies here, because we're talking about individuals overseas, at least in one end of this telephone conversation. There are a variety of carriers you have to satisfy here.
For example, to give you just one. And I am leaving aside all the constitutional arguments about the president being commander in chief, aside from congressional authorization. And that subsection in order for the FISA to apply, you need to have a surveillance targeted on an American citizen. If NSA is targeting overseas al Qaeda members, and not the American citizens involved, then FISA does not apply.
DOBBS: Jim Bamford, what do you say?
BAMFORD: FISA is very comprehensive. As a matter of fact, when they were putting into effect the attorney general at the time, Griffin Bell testified. And he said specifically that they had tightened this bill to make it so that this is the only way the president would be able to do electronic surveillance in the United States. Otherwise, why have the bill? Why have a bill...
RIVKIN: With all due respect, you're not a lawyer.
BAMFORD: I am. I have a law degree.
RIVKIN: Oh, you are? OK. Forgive me.
The statute was passed to deal with domestic surveillance abuses undertaken a number of administrations. Things like surveillance against Martin Luther King, surveillance against political enemies. That's what the statute was directed at.
Every court that has looked at the issue and the legislative history of the statute itself indicated that it was not meant to govern overseas intelligence gathering and certainly gathering of military intelligence in times of war.
BAMFORD: Well, with all due respect, you're not an intelligence expert. So the people that have come out so far...
RIVKIN: I can read the statute.
BAMFORD: The people that have come out so far are the people who have--the Congressional Research Service. It is totally impartial. They came out without a doubt insisting that this was a violation of the law.
RIVKIN: The analysis, unfortunately, was so polarized that it is hard to have a serious legal discussion, because it's so much driven by people's policy imperatives.
BAMFORD: But, I just remembered Richard Nixon, all the way as he is walking to the helicopter waving goodbye insisting that he's doing it legal.
DOBBS: Can I ask this gentlemen just for a moment to withdraw from the partisan, if you will, view or perspective. And ask you both to answer this question, first, David Rivkin, how troubled are you that there might be other ways to go about this surveillance without infringing on the privacy of U.S. citizens, to do so with oversight, carry out the surveillance but with oversight and due process, if you will?
RIVKIN: Lou, this is precisely an excellent question. But the true answer is--the reason is--let me tell you very briefly why.
DOBBS: I need it very briefly. RIVKIN: Very briefly because the whole FISA approach is based upon a probable cause to believes that some wrongful activity has taken place. In this instance, there is a gathering of intelligence...
DOBBS: David, I had a straightforward question. I need a straightforward answer. Does it trouble you?
RIVKIN: No it does not trouble me.
DOBBS: Jim Bamford does it trouble you that in your insistence on a narrow view on this, if you will, at least to David Rivkin and others, obviously the administration would say, would it trouble you that we would be forgoing, putting aside a weapon in the war against radical Islamist terrorists not to be conducted this surveillance?
BAMFORD: Well, I think it's a false choice. I think if it's a valid...
DOBBS: It's the only one we've got, really. Jim, I appreciate you don't like the question, but it's mine. Would you give me the benefit of at least an answer?
BAMFORD: What I want is the president to obey the law. The FISA court is the easiest court on earth for them to go through, and that's what I want them to do. I don't want them to go around the FISA law.
DOBBS: All right. Gentlemen, we were doing better with law and intelligence philosophy. Apparently, we're not going to have that conversation.
Jim Bamford, we thank you for having the one we did. and David Rivkin, thank you sir. We appreciate it.
BAMFORD: Thanks Lou.
DOBBS: Still ahead, why some Canadian politicians are deliberately stirring up anti-American sentiment in what has become a nasty election. We'll have that special report.
And outrage over the interference of churches and religious groups in the national debate over illegal immigration and border security. I'll be joined by three leading political and journalistic commentators here next. Three of the very best, in fact. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Canadians go to the polls Monday after an election campaign dominated by the supposed influence of the United States on Canada's economy, its politics and culture alike. Darn those Americans.
Canadian hostility toward the United States is nothing new, of course, but the level is reaching the upper limits. The liberal party of Prime Minister Paul Martin has taken it, in fact, to a record level.
Bill Schneider has the story.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice over): Just listen to the terrible things Canada's liberals have been saying in their ads about conservative party leader Steven Harper.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Canada may elect the most pro-American leader in the western world. A Harper victory will put a smile on George W. Bush's face. Well, at least someone will be happy. Eh?
SCHNEIDER: Anti-Americanism right next door. You never hear anti-Canadianism in the U.S., now do you? Actually, you do. In the animated 1999 movie "South Park," the U.S. goes to war with Canada hurling anti-Canadian insults.
Here's the president declaring war on America's northern neighbor over an American hostage in the 1995 movie, "Canadian Bacon."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I want to say to Prime Minister McDonald, surrender her pronto or we'll level Toronto.
SCHNEIDER: Those movies don't ridicule Canada as much as they make fun of the U.S. We asked Mike Duffy, a Canadian TV host, what Canadians make of all this.
MIKE DUFFY, HOST, CTV'S MIKE DUFFY LIVE: Canadians take it as a matter of pride that we get mentioned in American popular culture.
SCHNEIDER: Here's the important point about anti-Americanism in Canada. It's not working. Harper is leading liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin in all the polls.
DUFFY: Canadians have heard all of those scare stories before, and it doesn't seem to be working this time.
SCHNEIDER: This time, Harper's conservatives have an issue, corruption. They use it in this ad attacking Martin, which includes their own little dig at the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said the liberal party was not corrupt, but they were named in a judicial investigation on corruption. He says he opposes U.S.-style private health care, but he personally uses a private clinic.
SCHNEIDER: We found this war plan at the National Archives that outlines the strategy approved in the 1930's for a U.S. invasion of Canada. Right here, it talks about an early joint overseas expedition against Halifax. Can't trust those Nova Scotians, eh--Lou.
DOBBS: You spent time in the archives to look up a 1930's invasion plan of Canada? SCHNEIDER: We found it.
DOBBS: Bless your heart.
I'm pleased to remind all of our viewers, who I'm sure took powerful note of the fact that all of the anti-Canadian references you found in modern American culture were in entertainment, not in the equally occasionally fictitious public life of this country.
SCHNEIDER: That's right.
DOBBS: Does it look like the conservative is going to win this Monday?
SCHNEIDER: All the polls point to a conservative victory, and, you know, a lot of American conservatives are going to say, you see, it's a friend of George Bush. Things will get better.
But I'm not sure it's because of the Canadian love for the United States or George Bush. It's despite their reservations about Mr. Harper, and it's because of the liberal government which has been in for 12 year. It's because of their wrongdoing.
DOBBS: It may be. In fact, a clarifying event in North America, Paul Martin leading a government beset by scandal. We'll see how Americans interpret the situation in Washington by November.
DOBBS: Thank you, Bill Schneider.
DOBBS: Tonight Google says it will vigorously find a subpoena from the federal government. The Justice Department wants Google to hand over records from millions of web sites and Internet searches. The federal government saying it needs those records as part of its effort to revive a child pornography law that the Supreme Court rejected two years ago.
Google has refused the request calling it overreaching. The Justice Department says other companies including America Online, Yahoo and Microsoft have all complied with similar requests.
"The Washington Post" has shut down one of its blogs after a "Washington Post" executive wrote that disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats as well as Republicans. The comments weren't well received by many "Washington Post" blog readers. In fact, using the blog to launch highly personal attacks against ombudsman Deborah Howell.
For the record, about one-third of the money from Jack Abramoff and his clients did, in fact, go to Democrats and two-thirds to Republicans. That's the reality. Don't blog me. It's the fact.
And poor "Washington Post" ombudsman not being able to deal with reality on their own blog. Frightening, scary. They shouldn't shut it down. Should they?
Joining me now here, Joe Klein, columnist for "Time Magazine," the eminent columnist for "Time Magazine," Jeffrey Toobin, our eminent legal analyst and in Boston, Massachusetts, former ambassador to four presidents, yes equally eminent, David Bergen.
Good to have you all here. Well, let's start with "The Washington Post" shutting down a blog for crying out loud, Joe Klein, because the ombudsman is assailed personally?
JOE KLEIN, COLUMNIST, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, I vow to nobody in my disdain for bloggers. You know, they are all opinions and very little information. But this is freedom of speech, and it's "The Washington Post," the great defender of freedom of speech. It's ridiculous.
DOBBS: Yes, I agree.
And David let's turn to some of the other issues. We have a president, some are telling us is on the rebound in the midst of a right to privacy, a limitation of executive power, debate an argument with Al Gore accusing him of breaking the law. How is he doing?
DAVID GERGEN, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, he just achieved, I think, the most significant victory domestically of his presidency and with Judge Alito. And he's delivered now, Lou, on his promises to his base to take the Supreme Court in the conservative direction. And the Democrats failed to dramatize just how important this was. So he has got a big victory going into the State of the Union.
But, you know, his momentum on almost every other front domestically is slowed down enormously. He's going to have a hard time on the immigration front. He's going to have a hard time on taxes this year. He's going to have a very hard time on most of the kind of things he wants to do on health care and beyond that, of course, the mess in Iraq.
So I can't say that the president's in great political shape. I think he has got a great victory on the court, but you can't say he's in great political shape.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, SR. LEGAL ANALYST: What's been interesting about the NSA story is that the Republicans and the Bush administration were kind of paralyzed when it broke in December.
But they've decided to embrace it. They've decided to say, you bet we're doing domestic spying because we're protecting your security. They're trying to turn it into not a legal story but a story about security. And they feel like they're on safe turf.
And, frankly, there's not going be a definite legal judgment on it. So they're probably right that there's going to be no legal resolution so they can turn it into a political argument.
KLEIN: You know, and that is the most cynical sort of politics. This NSA program is an important necessary program. It can be made legal wit a very small adjustment that would bring the law up to date with the technology that now exists. If the Bush administration were really concerned about this and not concerned with scoring points against Democrats, they would change the law.
DOBBS: And, David, isn't -- and I think Joe makes a point certainly that I agree with. A great deal of cynicism, if not outright clumsiness, both political and in terms of governance on the part of the Bush administration.
But an equal demonstration of cynicism on the part of the Democrats, who, rather than dealing with the substance of this issue, seemed to be taking on---this is a matter of political gainsmanship trying to score political points, rather than dealing with the national interests.
GERGEN: Well I think up to a point. But I have to say I do echo Joe Klein. I mean, it's a president who's in charge here of the executive branch. It's his NSA, and he's the one who ought to be, you know, very concerned to make sure he is within the law. I mean, there are very deep questions here about the legality of this.
And it seems so simple to get a private agreement with Democrats, and how would you have reformed the law? And, you know, beyond the arguments about the past, we need to figure out is it going to be legal in the future and put some safeguards, by the way, on all the data that has already been collected so it's not used to smear people in the future.
DOBBS: Let's turn to our--on this broadcast, at least the moral equivalent of the Supreme Court, and that it is Jeffrey Toobin.
TOOBIN: Moral, certainly not the legal equivalent.
but the irony here is they changed all the National Security Law. It was called the Patriot Act. They could have done this. The Congress was only too happy to give them all the power they wanted, but they didn't ask for it.
And the problem they have now if they asked to change the law, it would be admission that they've been breaking it for these past few years, and they are not going to do that.
KLEIN: They're playing politics with the Patriot Act, too. I mean, there's been so much inaccurate--the administration. They really want that battle. That's one that they can win.
DOBBS: But haven't done so yet.
KLEIN: Oh, they will. They will.
In fact, they wanted it extended until next summer so that they could have the fight over the permanent extension during the campaign season because they figure most Americans will support them in going after al Qaeda, especially in a week like this.
GERGEN: What they're setting up, Lou, is they are setting up the campaign theme for 2006. When Karl Rove when out today and beat the drums in one of his first public speeches in a long time, it's so clear that they're trying to set up who's tougher on terrorism as the main issue for 2006. Take it off the culture corruption. Take it off, you know, these other issues that have been really messy.
DOBBS: 2006 is shaping up as interesting, because the numbers have never been lower. You have to go back to 1994 and the Republican sweep into office. And these numbers approximate those.
KLEIN: I just got back from Ohio. I spent the week there. And the folks out there are just so sick and tired. They're sick and tired of being sick and tired, as someone said to me this week. And I don't know how it's going to turn out, but there is immense anger out there. Tremendous skepticism about the war and about the government.
DOBBS: We have been reporting, as Joe answers his phone here, we've been reporting this week on the Catholic churches position on support of illegal immigration, its opposition to tough border security legislation.
David, have you -- can you remember a time in which the Catholic church and others have been as animated and vigorous in taking on a national issue?
DOBBS: Besides abortion, I mean.
GERGEN: Yes, I was going to say, how about abortion?
GERGEN: You know, many people may object to the Catholic church getting involved with this, but a lot of them are the conservatives who didn't have any objection at all to the Catholic church getting involved in the abortion debate. They injected themselves heavily in that issue.
TOOBIN: I'm reading Taylor Branch's biography of Martin Luther King this week. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference led the fight for the Voting Rights Act. They've been involved in politics forever. I just think religious people have free speech rights, too.
GERGEN: It's the same kind of thing as the Christian Coalition.
DOBBS: What was all the stuff about the Evangelicals in 2004 and 2000? What was that all about, then?
TOOBIN: Exercising their free speech rights -- more power to them.
DOBBS: You wouldn't have thought so, watching the liberal media. It was like they were carrying on a Fifth Column.
KLEIN: Well, I thought that was overreaching as well. One of the biggest problems of the media is that it has never taken people of faith seriously enough. DOBBS: Joe Klein, David Gergen, Jeffrey Toobin. Gentlemen, we're out of time. Thanks a lot. See you next week.
Just ahead, more of your thoughts on another leftist comrade for Communist Cuba President Fidel Castro. Our SPECIAL REPORT on the latest anti-American leader taking power, not in Canada but in Latin America.
Next -- stay with us.
DOBBS: The Latin-American shift to the left is accelerating. Sunday, Evo Morales will be inaugurated as president of Bolivia. Morales, a close ally of Venezuela and Cuba, has been forging close ties to Communist China. Lucia Newman reports.
LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the plaza facing Bolivia's presidential palace, there's a festive mood. Especially among the Aimara (ph) Indians, who are counting the hours until their country's first-ever indigenous president is sworn in.
Now it's our turn, says this laborer. We expect changes.
So does Washington, but none of them good. President-elect Evo Morales, a former leader of Bolivia's coca leaf farmers, has spent months denouncing President George Bush as an imperialist terrorist, while joining Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez in what some in Washington call the new axis of evil.
This week, the White House decided to turn the other cheek and offer a dialogue. Now Morales, too, has offered a conciliatory gesture of his own.
EVO MORALES, BOLIVIAN PRESIDENT-ELECT: (Speaking Spanish).
NEWMAN: I'm the first to say, I forgive the White House for all the accusations it's made against me, he told us.
Morales still plans to nationalize Bolivia's natural gas industry. But in recent days, he's toned down his fiery leftist rhetoric, sounding more pragmatic, promising a fair deal to foreign investors -- among them, the Chinese. China's investing millions in gas and minerals.
This economist says, while the U.S. was out to lunch, China has become the new actor in the regional scenario.
GONZALO CHAVEZ, ECONOMIST: I think that, probably North Americans are looking at other parts of the world, and they forget really what's going on in South America.
NEWMAN: Bolivia is a small, poor country, but important to the United States, not just because of its large natural gas reserves, but because of this little green leaf -- the raw material of cocaine. Dona Isabela (ph) has been selling coca leaves here for more than 40 years. We've used it for centuries to cure diabetes, for when you're tired, you chew it and it gives you energy to work. And that American president wants to take it away from us, she complains.
Morales has vowed to stop the U.S. government-sponsored coca eradication program, putting him on a collision course with Washington.
MORALES (Newman translating): I say, zero cocaine. Zero drug trafficking, but not zero coca cultivation for traditional consumption.
(on camera): What to expect? Observers say, don't listen to what Morales says; wait and see what he does -- a position now shared by the White House. Lucia Newman, CNN, La Paz, Bolivia.
DOBBS: Up next here, your thoughts, your votes. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight: 67 percent of you say American leadership poses the greatest challenge to the United States in the next decade; 30 percent, China; 3 percent, Iran. North Korea didn't get a vote.
Taking a look now at your thoughts: Jim in Texas: "Lou, China has surpassed the United States in the information field. Will science be next? China's moving forward while people here in the United States are working hard to get religion taught in our science classes. Someone, please explain what is going on in my country?"
And Boo in Florida: "Lou, since the Catholic Church supports illegal immigration, maybe they can pony up their share of taxes to help pay for the added expense of these criminals." There's a thought.
Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com. You'll receive a copy of my book, "Exporting America," when we read your e-mail here.
And you can sign up for our e-mail newsletter at LouDobbs.com as well.
We thank you for being with us tonight. We hope you'll be with us next week.
In "Heroes," Monday, one American soldier, who fled Cambodia as a boy, grew up to win one of this nation's top military honors. We'll have his story. Please be with us.
For all of us here, have a great weekend. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" starts right now, with John King.
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